My Journey into Virtual Reality Flying

For the first 21 years of online flying I was also a pilot in the real world. So over half my flying was in hotel rooms. I carried a MS Sidewinder joystick and CH Pro Throttle in my bag and played on a 17 inch laptop the last few years. I used the same setup at home for consistency.

At the end I wasn’t incredibly motivated to fly. It wasn’t much fun. My Sidewinders were all getting worn out. I retired from real world flying but even that didn’t motivate me to fly all that much. I decided to upgrade to the Warthog joystick. I hated the thing. Stiff as steel rod. I knew from my prior life that aerobatic pilots extend the stick to gain fine control so I knew the same thing would work on the Warthog so I bought the longest extension available.

You can’t really fly with a 20CM extension at a desk. The stick had to be lower. I had to do something. The GF would not be happy with an ugly contraption in my play area, which is our upstairs landing. I had to come up with something that allowed the area to look presentable when required.

The Flying Coffin Project was born. As I was finishing the build of the FC, my ROG laptop was not performing well. My new business required a reliable computer so I decided to build a desktop for the first time in almost 10 years. I had no intention of going VR. I was going to play in glorious 4K on a 55 inch screen.

So I built this computer in December 2017.


Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake 4.2 GHz LGA 1151 Boxed Processor
ASUS ROG STRIX Z270E GAMING LGA 1151 ATX Intel Motherboard
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 2 x 8GB DDR4-3000 PC4-24000 CL16 Dual Chann
Corsair Hydro Series H100i V2 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Corsair Graphite 780T ATX Full-Tower Computer Case – Black
Corsair RMX Series RMX750 750 Watt 80 Plus Gold Fully Modular ATX Power
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB VR Ready 5K HD Gaming Graphics Card (ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-11G-GAMING)
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 2 x 8GB DDR4-3000 PC4-24000 CL16 Dual C
Samsung 960 EVO Series – 500GB NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V6E500BW)

Computer built and Flying Coffin built I needed a new monitor that was 4K. My Samsung TV was nice but a waste with all that horsepower. I researched monitors but the ones I really wanted were $1500 or so. I did not know much about VR. I only knew it required awesome computing power and resolution wasn’t great. However, an Oculus Head Mounted Display (HMD) was only $399. I could utilize my new awesome computing power toying with VR and save money for the 4K monitor I really wanted.

I had no clue.

Setting up the Oculus was a fun experience and seemed pretty neat. DCS was the first title I fly in VR. I was totally blown away. For the first time in over 20 years of online flying I felt like I was in a real airplane. My first attempt at a split S in VR, after many thousands of low level Split S maneuvers online, actually tightened the gut like in a real airplane. For weeks after I was grabbing for things that didn’t exist, trying to hold a canopy rail or grab the wheel of a P-38.

After over a year of VR, I no longer grab for imaginary cockpit components and it is rare to get that gut-tightening feeling (although it sometimes still happens) but I still get a kick from VR flying. War Thunder is my combat simulator of choice but I still fly a bit of DCS just for the fun of flying. Helicopters are especially fun in VR but I really love the early jets in DCS. Right now, I enjoy doing a little cross country TACAN navigation and manual bombing in the pleasantly unsophisticated F-5E. Its fun just to fly around the Nevada Test and Training Range and bomb the targets in the Stuka and Noodle NTTR Range targets mission.

My 1080p Samsung TV is still in operation as the monitor for the new rig. There is no desire to buy a 4K monitor. I could never fly flat earth again.

For those that are interested, here is how the Flying Coffin closes up for the night.

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